Tools for managing interdependencies among critical infrastructures in planning major events

By Robert Benoît, Eng. Ph.D. and Gabriel Yan, Jr. Eng., M.Sc.

Critical infrastructures (CIs) make up a complex system composed of interdependent and interrelated networks. The interdependencies among CIs vary as a function of time (Rinaldi et al., 2001; Robert & Morabito, 2008), and this dynamism makes it difficult to model them.

Over the last few years, the Centre risque & performance (CRP) at the École Polytechnique de Montréal has developed modeling tools to evaluate the functional and geographic interdependencies among the critical systems for the cities of Montréal and Québec (Robert & Morabito, 2011). The expertise acquired in the course of this work led the CRP to obtain a mandate from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to develop some simple tools that would make it possible to anticipate problems related to geographic interdependencies and dependency on essential resources and services (ERS) in planning major and large-scale events. The ERS considered in evaluating organizations’ dependency are:

Resources: electricity, natural gas, petroleum products, drinking water, service water, and information and communication technologies (land line/telephonic, land line/computerized (voice), land line/computerized (data), wireless/cellular phones, wireless/radio communication and pagers, wireless/satellite phones)

Services: waste collection, personal transportation, freight transportation, health care, food services, government, financial services, security services, fire protection, and accommodation.

This project was initiated in connection with the 2010 G8 and G20 Summits in Canada. Validation meetings then took place. Forty representatives of 25 organizations that had participated in major events took part in these meetings. The validation meetings were designed so that the representatives could comment on the relevance of the approach and the potential usefulness of the initial versions of the tools developed. Their comments led to the production of the final tools and the creation of a website dedicated to making the tools widely available and creating a community of practice: http://www.polymtl.ca/crp/en/MajorLargeScaleEvents/MajorLargeScaleEvents.php.

These validation meetings revealed that the majority of respondents were genuinely interested in using the tools. In fact, most respondents noted that there were no tools available to event organizers to evaluate geographic interdependencies and dependencies on the resources supplied.

The tools that have been developed make it possible to support event organizers in collecting data and analyzing potential problems related to interdependencies. They take the form of ten modules. The tools are presented in modular form so that they can more easily be integrated into different kinds of event planning processes and also so that they will complement existing tools related to interdependencies. They can therefore be used independently of one another.

Checklists are also available. Again, they can be used alone or to complement the above-mentioned modules. They help organizers to avoid forgetting steps in the process or points that must be considered.

The modules, presented in the form of a manual, are classified into three categories of tools. The fourth category includes the checklists. A detailed description of each module is available on the website.

The website created as a result of this project is dedicated to making the tools readily available and creating a community of practice related to the planning of major or large-scale events. This website also provides relevant references on the planning of major events and various reports that have been written over the course of the project. Regarding the community of practice, one web page collects users’ suggestions so that the tools can be enhanced. When suggestions are shared, it becomes possible to create tools that are better adapted to the concrete problems experienced by organizers of major events.

The tools help event organizers to reduce their vulnerability related to the use of ERS, ensure better management of the territory from the point of view of geographic interdependencies, and promote communication among stakeholders with a view to joint planning of the event.

To fully benefit from these tools, teamwork is necessary. The involvement of the organizations identified as playing a role in the planning of a major event is crucial first in the data collection phase and then for the formation of specific working groups. The creation of such groups makes it possible to handle issues related to the confidentiality of sensitive data, as well as to ensure joint management of the event by solving potential problems identified during the data analysis.

Acknowledgments

The CRP would like to thank Public Safety Canada (PSC) and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) for their backing and financial support. Thanks are also due to all the representatives of the organizations we met with in the course of the work for their comments and suggestions, which helped us with the development of these tools.

References

Rinaldi, S. M., Peerenboom, J. P., and Terrence, K. K. (2001) “Identifying, understanding, and analyzing critical infrastructures interdependencies.” IEEE Control Systems Magazine, December 2001.

Robert, B., and Morabito, L. (2008). “Operational tools for managing physical interdependencies among critical infrastructures.” International Journal of Critical Infrastructures, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 353–367.

Robert, B., and Morabito, L. (2011). “Reducing the vulnerability of critical infrastructures – Methodological manual.” Montreal, Canada, Presses internationales Polytechnique.

Benoît Robert, ing., Ph.D., Professeur titulaire, Directeur, Centre risque & performance,  Département de mathématiques et de génie industriel, École Polytechnique de Montréal. Email: benoit.robert@polymtl.ca

www.polymtl.ca/crp

Benoît ROBERT, ingénieur civil de formation, est professeur titulaire au département de mathématiques et de génie industriel de l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Il fonde en 2000 le Centre risque & performance, un centre de recherche hautement multidisciplinaire sur l’intégration des risques dans l’évaluation de la performance des réseaux de support à la vie ou Infrastructures Essentielles.

Benoît ROBERT, civil engineer, is professor at École Polytechnique of Montreal in the Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering. In 2000, he founded the Centre risque & performance, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the integration of risks in the evaluation of the performance of critical infrastructures.